Apologia pro Marcel Lefebvre
Volume 3, Chapter XLVII

Mgr. Lefebvre in Mexico


“Suspended Traditionalist Stirs Bishops in Mexico"
by Manuel Castella Ramirez
16 January 1981 – The Catholic Review

Mexico’s bishops protested against the surprise visit of suspended Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre to the country, where he has illicitly celebrated Tridentine Rite Masses and confirmed children.

The former Superior of the Holy Ghost Fathers was suspended in 1976 for Pope Paul VI for his rejection of Vatican Council II position on the liturgy and religious freedom.1 He has continued to preach his views and celebrate Mass according to the Tridentine Rite rather than the New Mass based on conciliar reforms.

He was refused entry to Mexico during a tour of Latin America in 1977. Immigration spokesmen said that he was allowed to enter this time with a tourist visa.

Church authorities denied his request to celebrate Mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe. But he has confirmed 2,000 Indian children and adults at Ojitlan, Oaxaca, and celebrated a Tridentine Rite Mass in Latin in a church near Mexico City. His Mexican followers said they had scheduled similar Masses for the Archbishop in other cities in ten states.

Bishop Genaro Alamilla, secretary of the Mexican Bishops’ Conference, said the nation's bishops "regret and lament the activities of the dissident Archbishop" and warned Catholics not to attend his Masses. Archbishop Bartolome Carrasco of Oaxaca said of the prelate's visit to Ojitlan that "it is divisive for Catholics in the area, already burdened by social and economic problems."

Spokesmen for two political parties disagreed.

"He (Lefebvre) will not reach many people, he knows most Catholics rally around Pope John Paul II," said Jesus Zamora Flores of the Mexican Democratic Party. Congressman Hiram Ascudro of the Accion Nacional Pary, which has many Catholic members, said that “the media is giving too much importance to the presence among us of Lefebvre, whose influence is weak.”

Practically every major daily, or magazine has headlined the Archbishop's surprise visit, with some saying his views are healthy for the survival of Catholicism. Others have been critical of the visit. Archbishop Lefebvre contends that Church reforms weaken the faith of the people.

Archbishop Carrasco warned that the suspended Archbishop has no faculties to administer the sacraments or celebrate Mass.


Archbishop Lefebvre in Mexico2
January 1981

Some priests in Mexico had several times asked me to come and give Confirmation. The situation is that in Mexico Catholics in some parishes have turned their priests out, because they broke up the statues in the churches, celebrated bizarre liturgies, took no interest in catechizing, and refused to baptize babies. The example

So I gave in to these requests and agreed to go to Mexico in January and spent almost three weeks there. We landed at Veracruz, where a man called Pedro, with the help of a small group of Catholics, had turned the priests out of his parish. Some people had protested against this, so the government had put Pedro in jail. The Catholics demonstrated on his behalf, staged a sit-down strike in front of the jail and got him released. He was scarcely out of jail when fresh hostility flared up from the progressivist clergy. Again Pedro went to jail and again the Catholics went on strike and got him released. Then suddenly the situation reversed itself, and Pedro was put in charge of the parish – by the authorities themselves. He keeps the keys, he rings the bells, and organizes the Masses and other functions. I spent three wonderful days in this parish and gave 1,200 confirmations.

Then we went to a "village" of 46,000 inhabitants. There too the faithful have turned their priests out. When we arrived, they told us, “What we want are priests like you, priests like before, who don't destroy our statues, who teach true doctrine and say the Old Mass.” These people gave us an overwhelming reception. The air was full of banners, paper lanterns and torches, a deluge of confetti, military salutes, bands playing and fireworks!

This “village” included six parishes. In five of them, the Catholics have their priests out, while the sixth is still in the hands of the Modernists. When the local bishop learned I was there, he came to this parish (which he had not visited for a long time) and in a sudden burst of apostolic zeal invited the faithful to come, promising them a beautiful ceremony and confirmations. Not a single parishioner accepted the Bishop's invitation. Meanwhile I had 850 confirmations in the church next door.

Mexicans are naturally easy-going, but they are getting more and more disillusioned with the nonsense of the Modernists. Some time ago, Bishop Arceo, who is Archbishop of Cuernavaca, visited a parish in his diocese. He went into the church, the main feature of which is a huge Spanish-style crucifix in vivid colors, and surmounted by an arc of rays. The bishop expressed a wish to replace this with a wooden crucifix, which was admittedly in good taste. But he did not get his way. The people lost no time in telling him in all possible bluntness, “Not so fast, my Lord Bishop! You touch that crucifix and we hang you!”

I gave altogether 2,500 confirmations in Mexico. Everywhere people begged, "Monseigneur, you cannot abandon us!" So we must see what we can do.

Next we went to Cordoba, then to Mexico. We visited Guadalajara, site of a free, anti-communist university, attended by 30,000 students (10,000 natives and 20,000 foreigners). One wonders how the government can tolerate the existence of such a university. One is justified in asking such questions when one realizes that it is supported by the Rockefeller Foundation. Now it is well known that the financial generosity of that organization goes along with a policy whose aim is to destroy moral and Christian values in the world. The influential role played by the Rockfeller Trust in the spread of contraceptives and abortion has been pointed out. In the present instance, perhaps the money has persuaded the recipients of it not to go too far towards a counter-revolution. This would explain why at the University of Guadalajara you never hear Christ the King mentioned and the demands of the Natural Law and of the Christian Faith in the area of sexuality are conveniently overlooked.

During the entire visit, we were shown the greatest courtesy and alertness by the forces of law. Everywhere we went, we were closely followed by a police car.

The religious situation in that country is deplorable. Last year there were altogether two ordinations for a country of 77 million!

In this area I met unexpectedly a young priest (35 to 40 years old). It would not have been easy to guess he was a priest, as he was quite portly and wore a khaki jacket. He was introduced and then told me things which I never frankly expected to hear. What he said, in effect, was, “Monseigneur, I wanted very much to see you. You understand that we live in a progressive environment here. Now I’m telling you this because I know it is true: the Church here in only a veneer. It's a façade with nothing behind it. All spiritual life is gone. You are on the right track, you have the truth, you are on the side of the Holy Ghost." I was certainly astonished and yet happy to hear him speak in this way. But what could I say to him in reply?

In Mexico City they have built a new church at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Imagine an immense structure, entirely of concrete. And entirely round. Inside, they have erected a very high podium. All round this, there is a semi-circle of red velvet armchairs, sharply reclining. They are almost couches, so that the priests seem to be lying down. Yet in this position they celebrate Mass, except for the two or three who remain standing.

The miraculous image of the Blessed Virgin has been placed in this church, but so high that, in order to see it, one must go behind the podium. To do that, the best they could do was to install a moving belt. This contraption whisks you along, and when you get to the image, however much you wish to stop and pray, you cannot, because you are carried swiftly away by this belt. And if you are trying to keep your balance and can hardly look up, nothing. If they had wished to ridicule the faithful they could not have been more successful.

But what is very edifying is to see the devotion of the faithful. Sometimes they come from far away and are very tired from the journey. Yet they do not hesitate to get on their knees on the pavement outside and make their way slowly indoors, praying and singing. One wonders how the priests in charge, who claim to know so much pastoral psychology, can ignore the mentality of these simple people and force them to undergo all sorts of annoyances, such as the removal of the kneelers.

In the press I was at first the object of outright hostility. The pack attacking me most vigorously included some of the progressivist bishops. One day an orthodox bishop, who was properly outraged at what was happening, had an article published which said, in effect: “Catholic bishops are always talking about charity. The one time they have the chance to put it into practice regarding a confrère, they shower him with abuse." His article had a great impact, and the bishops afterwards showed a little more restraint. Little by little the attitude has become more objective – I would even say sympathetic – to the point where the situation seems favorable for priests of the Society to be sent out to establish priories.

I figure in cartoons in several newspapers. In one example I was pictured as an atomic bomb ready to explode, under which the Mexican bishops were cowering and quivering, paralyzed with fear and getting smaller and smaller.

1. The Archbishop was suspended for ordaining priests contrary to the prohibition of Pope Paul VI, and for no other reason.

2. His Grace spoke informally to the faculty of the Ecole Saint-Michel de Surins-Niherne about his visit to Mexico. From Fideliter, July/August 1981.
admittedly came from higher up, since the bishops themselves seem to be "forgetting" to administer Confirmation.

Chapter 46

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